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The Hospital Clínico has sent a message of «calm» with regard to pressure on the emergency department. SUR
Hospital admissions for flu in Malaga almost five times those of Covid
Health

Hospital admissions for flu in Malaga almost five times those of Covid

The ditching of face masks and "weak defences" against the disease are the main reasons for this difference between viruses, according to medical professionals

Wednesday, 10 January 2024, 10:40

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A wet cough, fever, joint pain... these are some of the main symptoms of influenza, the virus that is currently spreading throughout Spain and which has undoubtedly won the 'battle' against Covid as the most serious respiratory virus of winter 2023/2024.

According to official data from the Junta de Andalucía, hospital admissions (whether to a ward or intensive care unit) due to influenza are almost five times higher than those of the coronavirus, which gives a similar picture to pre-pandemic times.

Last week the rate of flu admissions in Andalucía last week was 6.8 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, a figure that can be extrapolated to the province and which is "on the rise", according to the expert doctor in preventive medicine at the Hospital Clínico in Malaga, Rocio Lorenzo. In the case of Covid, the rate is 1.5 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, almost five times lower and with a "downward" trend, the doctor explained. In between is the rate of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) with 4.8 cases per 100,000 people, although it is a virus whose admissions are generally less serious than the others.

In the case of influenza, it is affecting more men than women. Although the exact percentage has not been revealed, Lorenzo estimates that it could be split around 55-45 per cent. What is clear is that the age groups most affected by these viruses that force patients to be admitted are those over 79 years old, followed by those between 65 and 78. In third place are those under the age of one year.

SUR has already reported that the incidence rate of influenza in the last week had risen from 112 cases per 100,000 people to 141 in the Andalusian region as a whole. RSV had risen from 98 to 111, while Covid remained the same (around 100),

There are two main reasons for this high incidence. Rocío Lorenzo explained that during the Covid pandemic, the flu virus appeared much less frequently, and that after several years like this, people have less developed specific defences. To this must be added one of the most obvious: the ditching of face masks. "Until last year, people used to wear them in many places, but if they are no longer used and there are no defences, contagion occurs more quickly, creating the impression that everyone has the flu," she said.

A "normal" situation

Despite this, the expert in preventive medicine considers that both the Hospital Clínico and the other centres are "very far" from having a complicated situation both in terms of hospitalisation and in the ICU. "What is happening now happens every year," she insisted.

On Tuesday, the CC OO and UGT staff unions issued a joint communiqué in which they demanded "immediate measures" to deal with the "unsustainable situation" in the hospitals, and more specifically in the emergency departments, which are taking on the problems caused of the lack of appointments in primary care.

The Clínico responded by assuring that, "as every year at this time of year", the hospital complex is facing an increase in the number of patients attending emergency departments due to the increase in the incidence of respiratory viruses. Specifically, this complex is registering around a thousand attendances between its three emergency care points: Hospital Clínico, Hospital de Benalmádena and Hospital Valle del Guadalhorce", it explained.

Therefore, the centre has activated the High Frequency Plan, operating within the framework of the guidelines set out by the Andalusian public health service (SAS) to deal with this type of situation, "which is common in these months coinciding with the drop in temperatures," it insisted. "The hospital is responding on time and well to the needs of hospital admissions, and maintains its scheduled and urgent surgical activity, in addition to outpatient consultations and diagnostic tests. Care is therefore fully guaranteed," the hospital stated in response to the complaints.

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